NORTHERN Pathways, a consortium including Serco, John Holland and John Laing, has begun the initial works for the new Grafton Correctional Centre.

The centre will be made up of individual facilities which will hold 3 different categories of inmates safely, securely and entirely separately. It will include a 1000-bed male maximum-security facility; a 300-bed female maximum-security facility; and a 400-bed male minimum security facility. It will be the largest correctional facility in Australia when complete.

Both the centre itself, and the programs that inmates will participate in, are designed with the goal of reducing reoffending and making our communities safer.

Chief executive officer of John Holland, Joe Barr, said the company had industry leading experience in the construction of correctional facilities, including currently delivering the 1000-bed Ravenhall Prison in Melbourne.

“We look forward to working with the local community on this significant project,” said Barr. “We will have training programs in place to recruit and train local people, so they can get employment not only in the construction phase, but in operations as well.”

Serco Australia CEO Mark Irwin said the prison’s design, build and operate model ensured a high level of safety and security but allowed the introduction of significant education and vocational training programs which helped build life skills and prepare inmates for life on release.

“We work with our community and industry partners to develop these skills and give inmates the best chance at becoming responsible citizens again. Today is the first step to us making a positive difference through our work at the Grafton Correctional Centre.”

The consortium will operate the facility under a licence arrangement from the State who retain ownership of the facility and all its equipment. The prison will inject more than $A560m into the local economy with 1100 jobs created during construction phase and about 550 permanent jobs with Serco once operational. 

“The contract award for NGCC clearly marks a further important expansion of our international justice business, and by total contract value it also represents Serco’s largest ever contract ($A2.6b),” said Rupert Soames, Serco Group chief executive officer. 

“Serco already operates Australia’s current largest correctional facility, Acacia Prison, and at the heart of our custodial operations is the commitment to making a positive difference by safeguarding society and reducing reoffending. This contract demonstrates our strength in delivering best practice particularly in regard to rehabilitation, reintegration, education and training programmes, as well as innovation, world-class systems, recruitment and partnering.”